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Angry Robot Double-Review: Harbinger of the Storm (Aliette de Bodard) and Death’s Diciples (J. Robert King)

It’s been a while since I reviewed Angry Robot titles, and even though I’m way behind (as regards AR titles) I thought these two titles deserve reviews. 🙂

Harbinger of the Storm – Book 2 of the Obsidian and Blood Trilogy by Aliette de Bodard

Ever since I picked up the first book in this trilogy, Servant of the Underworld, I immediately became of fan of not only Aliette’s work but also a fan of Acatl, the central protagonist in the trilogy, so it was awesome to get back to Acatl’s world – that of the Aztec, albeit through a noirish, mystery-framed lens. 🙂

I had high hopes for book 2, and wasn’t disappointed!

In this book, Acatl is almost immediately put under immense pressure – not only has he earned the attention of some of the most powerful people in the Mexica Empire, but he is still dealing with the fallout of the previous book’s events.

Now he has to deal with a rising body count and incredibly powerful creatures that make the things he faced in book 1 pale in comparison.

Book 2 did much to flesh out Acatl as a character and person, even more so than the first book, because much of what Acatl had to do in this book had even more of a personal cost; without a doubt he was pushed further and harder than before, and by the end of the book I had the distinct feeling that even though Acatl had persevered the costs were heavier than before.

Action- and magic-wise, this book really kept me on the edge of my seat – as I said before, the creatures that Acatl and his allies (and even enemies) face in this book are damned powerful, but it doesn’t end there – deities enter the fray, and Aliette did a great job in layering them with incredible menace and danger; definitely not deities who sit back and move pieces on a board.

The rush toward the book’s climax held my attention all the way, and once again Aliette managed to beautifully bring together the myriad plot threads and mysteries to satisfying conclusions. I’m definitely looking forward to the last novel, and to more of Aliette’s work! 🙂

9 / 10

Harbinger

To order copies of Harbinger of the Storm, click here for Amazon US, here for Amazon UK, and here if you’re in South Africa; you can also head over to the Robot Trading Company to purchase all the Angry Robot eBooks you need, including Servant of the Underworld and Harbinger of the Storm. 🙂 Also, check out Aliette’s website here.

Death’s Disciples by J. Robert King

I’ve been a great fan of Rob’s work since I read the incredible Angel of Death and stunning Suicidals Anonymous, and I was seriously looking forward to Death’s Diciples. His second Angry Robot novel turned out to be completely different to Angel of Death and Suicidals Anonymous, but as damned good.

The novel follows Susan Gardner, the only survivor of a terrorist bomb on an airliner, and how Susan discovers just how she’s tied into the terrorist-plot – or is it a terrorist plot?

The first thing about this novel that struck me was it’s relentless pace – from the opening scene (Susan in the plane, witnessing its destruction) right up to the climax, it felt like I was left with literally no right time to take a break from the book; every chapter drew me onwards, as if I had suddenly become some ass clomping after a juicy carrot. 🙂

The second thing was Susan herself – Rob did an incredible job of revealing her personality chapter by chapter, managing to play to my expectations of her and what I thought she would do (she is the central protagonist, after all), and surprising me constantly. For most of the novel we are in her head, immersed in her thoughts and reactions, and the ride is sometimes chilling, sometimes funny, always surprising and, at times, heart breaking. She’s a great character!

There are more characters, of course – Susan’s brother, confronted with the sibling he thought he knew as he tries to help her take her place in her life again; Krupinski, an FBI agent investigating the attack (and Susan’s miraculous survival), and Mr Nero, one of the coolest and most twisted antagonists I’ve yet encountered in Fiction.

The plot of this novel, the twists and turns it takes, is nothing I could have ever predicted – Rob manages to make you believe that this is a book about terrorism and the stress and trauma of surviving a terrible event, until the weirdness hits, and hits, and hits, in waves of relentless tension and kickass, surprising events. Where Angel of Death was measured, menacing, beautiful and tragic, and where Suicidals Anonymous was superbly satirical and darkly humorous, Death’s Disciples is a thrill-a-second ride, supremely plotted, exciting, hard-hitting, and definitely falls into the Twisted Blockbuster category – one hell of an awesome ride!

9 / 10

Death's Desciples UK

Death's Desciples US

To order your copies of Death’s Disciples, click here for Amazon US, here for Amazon UK, and here if you’re in South Africa; remember, you can also get this novel and all of the published Angry Robot titles in various eBook formats over at the Robot Trading Company. 🙂 Check out Rob’s site here.

Until next time,

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on February 12, 2013 in Reviews

 

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Review: Suicidals Anonymous by J Robert King

Some years ago, I decided that the only way to solve problems and deal with pain was to kill myself. Obviously I didn’t succeed – either that or I’m Patient Zero of a zombie-disease. 🙂 Anyway, I swallowed approximately 120 strong pain pills and slashed my left wrist (I’m right-handed) and tried to pass from this world. I’m not saying this to shock you, or to gain sympathy, or any positive or negative comments regarding what I did. I’m bringing this up because of what I started reading last night and finished reading this afternoon.

Many might consider Suicidals Anonymous an absolutely terrible novel – because of the taboo subject it focuses on. Others will probably think of the novella as brilliance. Still others, and I’m a part of that minority, will see the novella for what it is – the closest anyone will ever come to understanding the intention to commit suicide.

Rob uses the story of Chris, the *failed* author, and his urge to kill himself to force us to look at just what suicide is and means, but it’s not just suicide that Rob focuses on; things take many turns, shocking, hilarious, deep and very, very dark, and Rob doesn’t allow you to catch your breath. The story absolutely hurtles along, with hardly a pause for toilet breaks or food. Chris is you, me, someone you know. He’s confused, depressed, ebullient, maniacal. I may not have found myself in the situations he found himself in, but I sympathized with everything he went through. How could I not, having survived suicide?

But do you have to be a suicide-survivor to enjoy and understand (at least, on the surface) Chris’ story? Not at all. You may not ‘enjoy’ it, but it’ll probably gut-punch you something heinous. And that is the mark of the kind of stories we all want to read – a story that’ll make you wince, make you swear, make you tremble. A story that’ll make you tremble and want to put the novella down because maybe you don’t want to think about what you’re reading, but you can’t, you’re drawn to the tale, to Chris, to facing the thoughts of suicide you’ve had because of Chris, and to finally understand that wanting to end your own life, on your own terms, for your own reasons, makes you human.

Suicidal’s Anonymous is disturbing, brilliant, funny and uplifting – and not always for the face-value reasons. I urge you to read this and experience it – you may not like it, you may not even understand it, but one thing’s for sure – you’ll look at the world with different eyes.

10 / 10

For more info about Rob and his work, check out his official website here; to order Suicidals Anonymous eBook click here for the US (Kindle), and here for those who frequent MobiPocket. For those wanting a hard copy of the novella, follow this link to Popcorn Press.

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on May 3, 2010 in Reviews, Uncategorized

 

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Angry Robot Review: Angel of Death by J. Robert King

There is a drought, at the moment. Not the kind of drought that kills people and livestock, but the kind of drought that leads to the cessation of questions being asked, of deep, terrible thoughts being entertained, of people really looking deeply into life and wondering just what the hell is going on. We live, sure, but we are also controlled by mass media – most of the time, we have opinions that were carefully created for us, or even in an offhanded way – and mass media dampens those moments of “….”, those moments when you are just stunned into silence, even though your mind is racing.

Thank goodness for J. Robert King‘s Angel of Death, and Angry Robot for bringing us this novel.

As I mentioned to Rob on Twitter, this book is brutal, uncompromising, unsettling… I felt slightly abused at the end of it, rough around the edges and shaken.

Angel of Death is a difficult book to pin down – it has touches of the supernatural (or does it?), it is a murder mystery viewed from the intimacy of the minds of killers, it is a love story, and it is a meditation on the myriad meanings that we, as human beings, push onto the struggle of living.

I found everything in this book – horror that really creeped me out, beauty in the style and simple evocative use of words that Rob employed, moments of utter revulsion and anger and misery (my roller coaster of emotions while reading), and much more besides. I found myself rooting for every character – the victims, the two characters around which the story revolves, even the characters that made my bile rise in my throat, but I hated them all, too, for reasons I can’t really explain. I mean, you can really like being around someone, enjoy their company and enjoy getting to know them, but some thing starts scratching at you, some thing draws your attention and before you know it, you loathe and like the person in equal measure.

But Angel of Death also has some incredibly uplifting moments, moments that helped me see past the brutality of the book, through the shocks and violence, and the even these hectic, cringe-inducing moments had their own stark kind of beauty – I can only liken this to the kind of brutal beauty an explosion seen from a distance has, the kind of thing that you wish you had never seen or experienced but miss, all the same.

This is also a novel that played with my expectations – Rob divided Angel of Death into three ‘Books’, and each book could be a full-length novel in its own right; not in terms of the length of these Books, but in terms of the events -the twists and turns and the paths the characters take – and led me down paths were I thought, more than once, “Okay, I think this’ll happen, yep, seems logical, seems right,” only to be punched in the gut with a turn I never expected.

I found Angel of Death to be an utterly masterful novel – one of those novels that truly only comes along very, very rarely. And it’s still echoing through my head – I replay scenes, hear the dialogue, see the imagery, feel the emotions… I haven’t read anything quite like this before; it stunned me completely, and I truly hope that this book finds its way into the hands of many, many people.

It’s the kind of book that changes you on the inside, that really leaves you shaken, but at the same time, brings into in sharper focus that which gives our lives meaning, and as such, I just can’t give this book a rating.

Do yourself a favour and read this.

Order your copies at the following links:

Amazon UK, Exclusive Books (SA), Kalahari (SA)

Check out Rob’s site here. It goes without saying that I’m trembling while awaiting Rob’s next Angry Robot novel, Death’s Disciples. Stay tuned for details!

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2010 in Reviews

 

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Angry Robot: The Day of the 3-Author Madness!

Some great news from Angry Robot! 🙂 Not one new-author announcement, but 3! 🙂

Press Release
15th June 2009
For Immediate Release
Angry Robot is presented today by the letter “M”s

Maurice Broaddus is one of the real good guys, so why the hell his fiction is so terrifying is beyond our understanding. The three books of the KNIGHTS OF BRETON COURT series is a modern retelling of the King Arthur cycle, set among the drug gangs of inner city America. Told through the eyes of King, as he tries to unite the crack dealers and do the right thing, it’s a stunning, edgy work, genuinely unlike anything we’ve ever read. Cheap movie analogy for you: Gilliam’s Fisher King meets The Wire. The first volume will be published by Angry Robot in summer 2010, with the remaining parts at six month intervals. Extraordinary. Check out more about Maurice here.
(Sounds awesome!)

Matt Forbeck… well, where do you start? Multiple award-winning fantasy game designer, computer game creative, writer of so many novels and comicbooks across all the major genre properties… So it’s about damn time someone allowed him free reign with his own novels, no? And we have a pair of stunners. AMORTALS, to be published November 2009, is set just a few years in the future. After a cop is killed, his reincarnated clone must find out who did the deed. Double Indemnity meets Altered Carbon? Roxor!
That’ll be followed late spring 2010 by the equally fabulous VEGAS KNIGHTS. It’s Oceans Eleven meets Harry Potter as three student wizards use Spring Break in an attempt to break a Vegas casino using magic. Only… the casino has its own sorcerers, and they’re not going to hand over all the moolah to a bunch of twenty year-old wandwavers. Check out more info on Matt here.
(Another sure-fire winner!)

Mike Shevdon is the Brit in our pile, and our debut novelist. The immense SIXTY-ONE NAILS and its sequel THE ROAD TO BEDLAM follow Niall Petersen, everyday guy, from a suspected heart attack on the London Underground, into the hidden world of the Feyre, an uncanny place of legend that lurks just beyond the surface of everyday life. The Untainted, the darkest of the Seven Courts, have made their play for power, and unless Niall can recreate the ritual of the Sixty-One Nails, their dark dominion will enslave all of the Feyre, and all of humankind too. A massive rollercoaster ride from a stunning new talent, the first volume will be in stores worldwide from November 2009. Check out more info on Mike here.
(Gimme more books like A Madness of Angels and I’m a happy man!)

Also in (older) Angry Robot news, here’s the cover for J. Robert King’s Angel of Death! 🙂

angelofdeath-front-72dpi-actual

All in all, great news from Angry Robot! 🙂

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2009 in Angry Robot

 

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Angry Robot: Signings and a Competition!

angry-robot-21

Some great, great news from Angry Robot! First of all, the signing of two, new-to-Angry-Robot authors! 🙂

Here’s the info:

Press Release

6th April 2009 • For Immediate Release

J Robert King & Andy Remic sign to Angry Robot

ANGRY ROBOT have been busy signing more brilliant authors for its upcoming SF/F/WTF?! imprint, due to launch in July 2009. No flannel, here they are…

j-robert-king

Award-winning US author J ROBERT KING has been snapped up for two novels brimming with wild creativity and extraordinary ideas. He calls his books “metaphysical suspense” – don’t worry, that just means they blow your imagination apart while at the same time freezing your blood. Rob’s debut for Angry Robot, the fabulously named THE ANGEL OF DEATH, does exactly that.

The Grim Reaper becomes strangely fascinated with a human cop investigating the deaths caused by a serial killer that Death has been following. But Death is a killer too, of course, and is not above the law. It’ll be published in the UK, US and Australia in September 2009, as a mass-market paperback.

This will be followed early next year by DEATH’S DISCIPLES. The sole survivor of a terrorist attack on a plane starts to hear the voices of the dead passengers. But what they’re telling her is far worse than what she’s suffered already.

King’s recent Sherlock Holmes novel for Tor, The Shadow of Reichenbach Falls, attracted a mass of critical attention, as did his Mad Merlin trilogy for the same publisher. And he can ride a unicycle, though maybe not while typing. Find out more at jrobertking.com

andy-remic

From the UK, meanwhile, we’re delighted and just a little scared to welcome ANDY REMIC to our ravening horde. His reputation as the hard man of British SF is well-deserved. Now he’s taking the tough guy stylings of Quake, Spiral and his recent Combat-K novels into fantasy, for a brand new trilogy that sees him, in one mighty bound, become the natural successor to the much-missed David Gemmell.

KELL’S LEGEND, due September 2009 in mass-market paperback, introduces Kell, grizzled veteran warrior much at odds with a civilised world where humanity has become soft. When a new foe arises to threaten the cit y of Jalder, only Kell remembers that to live, you have to fight, and fight dirty. But how can one man hold off against the Vachine, the terrifying clockwork vampires of legend?

SF Signal said this about Remic’s books: “A roller-coaster of fun… fun and fast-paced @$$-kicking action.”

Fantasy Book Critic agreed: ”Every once in a while a novel comes along that surprises the hell out of you. That was the case with “War Machine” by Andy Remic. Imagine my surprise when “War Machine” became my favorite science fiction novel of the year. Yes, you heard correctly. Gary Gibson’s “Stealing Light”, Peter F Hamilton’s “The Dreaming Void”, Neal Asher’s “Hilldiggers”, Josh Conviser’s “Empyre”, Richard K. Morgan’s “Black Man/Thirteen”, Matthew Jarpe’s “Radio Freefall”; “War Machine” topped them all and no one is more shocked than I am! …I loved every testosterone-fuelled second.”

Join the battle at andyremic.com

More information on Angry Robot can be found at angryrobotbooks.com

angry-robot-22

And now for the competition! 🙂 See that Angry Robot above this? All you have to do is come up with a cool name for him – that’s right, just name the Robot!

The winner, drawn by the folks over at Angry Robot, will be winning a set of the first 7 (that was not a typo, I really did type) 7 novels from the Angry Robot imprint! Sound awesome or what? So go ahead and follow this link through to Angry Robot’s competition-page, read the rules and fill in your details with the Robot’s name! 🙂 Couldn’t be easier! I might win something, too, so enter here! 🙂

Note: South African readers – YOU TOO MAY ENTER!! 🙂

And last but not least, do you want to see a real honest-to-goodness Angry Robot? Just click here and watch. 🙂

Be Fantastic!

 
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Posted by on April 6, 2009 in Angry Robot

 

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